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“Is that a photovoltaic array on that building? Grab it.”

“There’s a plaque that says this place is certified LEED Gold. Wonder if they got a grant from Massachusetts for an energy project . . . I put in the address. Yup, it was for an energy management system. Captured.”

“Here’s a Massachusetts clean energy QR code in the lobby of our school. Zap, got it.”

playing angry birdsMarketers are recognizing “gamification” as a way to motivate and engage people. Instant feedback, goals, competition, ratings, onboarding, points, recognition, reputation. These game attributes play into content delivery, education, a sense of community, ways to encourage behaviors.

At the Department of Energy Resources, we’ve been thinking hard about how to get the public to recognize, learn about and engage with the Commonwealth’s clean energy accomplishments. How do we increase the number of people who know that: the Governor’s solar goal was met four years early; 4500 buildings in cities and towns monitor and enable action on real-time energy use data; thousands of homeowners have upped the heating and cooling efficiency of their houses?

We’ve been kicking around the idea of using games on smart phones. Not long ago, my colleague – I’m embarrassed that I installed capacity for solar, wind and chpdidn’t come up with the idea first – suggested an app centered on making it fun to “identify and capture” the thousands of energy improvements enabled by state programs and funding. We could integrate it with public domain information from our Clean Energy Results Program (CERP) database that tracks clean energy projects across the state. Each improvement might be grouped by

  • geography: city or town or even neighborhood
  • type of improvement: efficiency, solar, renewable thermal
  • who implemented it: students, commercial landlord, municipal energy committee
  • facility type: municipal buildings, residences, schools, state buildings, commercial buildings
  • impact: most energy saved, most money saved, greatest GHG reduction

This just might be more fun than reading a government report about Massachusetts leadership in clean energy. What do you think?

Editor’s Note: reprinted with edits from the blog, “Inflection Points in Emerging Technologies”

Written By:


Tom facilitates marketing and collaboration for DOER constituents, internal and external, including the state's 351 cities and towns. Prior to joining DOER, he worked as a senior marketing professional in high tech – especially software – companies. He also consulted to the U.S. Department of Energy on markets for alternative energy technologies. Tom's expertise applies Web 2.0 and social networking approaches to information technology that enable and accelerate stakeholder engagement, knowledge access and exchange. He graduated from Stanford's Graduate School of Business, where he also did coursework in aeronautical engineering and wrote for Business Week on solar energy. He earned his A.B degree from Harvard in Technology & Public Policy. Tom flies and instructs in gliders -- solar powered aircraft -- and is a jazz drummer.

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